How Leadership Best Identifies, Controls, And Eliminates Hazards


Leaders Collect Information About Hazards

Effective leaders are interested in the root causes for the conditions and behaviors resulting in accidents. Information on workplace hazards may already be available to employers and workers from both internal and external sources. To uncover root causes, leaders should collect, organize, and review information with workers to determine what types of hazards may be present and which workers may be exposed or potentially exposed.

Leaders Inspect and Analyze Hazards

Effective leaders commit time to regularly inspect the workplace for hazards. This can help identify shortcomings so that they can be addressed before an incident occurs. To effectively demonstrate leadership in conducting inspections, leaders should:

  • Conduct regular inspections of all operations, equipment, work areas, and facilities. Have workers participate on the inspection team, and talk to them about hazards that they see or report.
  • Be sure to document inspections so you can later verify that hazardous conditions are corrected. Take photos or video of problem areas to facilitate later discussion and brainstorming about how to control them, and for use as learning aids.
  • Include all areas and activities in these inspections, such as storage and warehousing, facility and equipment maintenance, purchasing and office functions, and the activities of on-site contractors, subcontractors, and temporary employees.
  • Regularly inspect both plant vehicles (e.g., forklifts, powered industrial trucks) and transportation vehicles (e.g., cars, trucks).
  • Use checklists that highlight things to look for. Typical hazards fall into several major categories, such as: General housekeeping, equipment, machinery, maintenance, work practices, and ergonomic issues.
  • Before changing operations, workstations, or workflow, seek the input of workers and evaluate the changes for potential hazards and related risks.

Leaders Identify Health Hazards

Effective leaders realize that conditions in the workplace can affect employee health as well as safety. Reviewing medical records can be useful in identifying exposure to workplace health hazards. Health hazards include chemical, physical, biological and ergonomic hazards. To effectively demonstrate leadership when identifying health hazards, leaders should:

Identify chemical hazards: Review SDSs and product labels to identify chemicals in your workplace that have low exposure limits, are highly volatile, or are used in large quantities or in unventilated spaces. Identify activities that may result in skin exposure to chemicals.

  • Identify physical hazards: Identify any exposures to excessive noise (areas where you must raise your voice to be heard by others), elevated heat (indoor and outdoor), or sources of radiation.
  • Identify biological hazards: Determine whether workers may be exposed to sources of infectious diseases, molds, toxic or poisonous plants, or animal materials (fur or scat) capable of causing allergic reactions or occupational asthma.
  • Identify ergonomic risk factors: Examine work activities that require heavy lifting, work above shoulder height, repetitive motions, or tasks with significant vibration.
  • Conduct quantitative exposure assessments, when possible, using air sampling or direct reading instruments.

Leaders Conduct Incident/Accident Investigations

Effective leaders insist that all near-miss incidents and injury/illness accidents be investigated, not to place blame, but to fix safety management system weaknesses: the root causes. Doing so is very proactive because it helps ensure future incidents and accidents to not occur. They also investigate reports of other concerns that provide a clear indication of where hazards exist. To effectively demonstrate leadership when conducting incident/accident investigations, leaders should:

  • Develop a clear plan and procedure for conducting incident investigations, so that an investigation can begin immediately when an incident occurs.
  • Train investigative teams on incident investigation techniques, emphasizing objectivity and open-mindedness throughout the investigation process.
  • Conduct investigations with a trained team that includes representatives of both management and workers.
  • Investigate close calls/near misses.
  • Identify and analyze root causes to address underlying program shortcomings that allowed the incidents to happen.
  • Communicate the results of the investigation to managers, supervisors, and workers to
    prevent recurrence.

Leaders Identify Hazard Control Strategies

A wealth of information exists to help employers investigate options for controlling identified hazards. Good leadership will seek input from workers on the feasibility and effectiveness of hazard control measures. To effectively demonstrate leadership in identifying and selecting hazard control strategies, leaders should:

  • Review sources such as OSHA standards and consensus guidelines to identify potential control measures.
  • Investigate control measures used in other workplaces and determine whether they would be effective at your workplace.
  • Get input from workers to suggest and evaluate solutions based on their knowledge of the facility, equipment, and work processes.

Employers should select the controls that are the most feasible, effective, and permanent. To do that, they should use the “Hierarchy of Controls” that best eliminate or control hazards and exposure. Leaders should also review and discuss control options with workers to ensure that controls are feasible and effective.

Leaders Implement Hazard Controls

Once hazard prevention and control measures have been identified, they should be implemented according to the hazard control plan. To effectively demonstrate leadership in implementing hazard controls, managers should:

  • Implement hazard control measures according to the priorities established in the hazard control plan.
  • When resources are limited, implement measures on a “worst-first” basis.
  • Promptly implement any measures that are easy and inexpensive regardless of the level of hazard they involve

Leaders Follow Up to Confirm that Controls are Effective

To ensure control measures are and remain effective, employers should track progress in implementing controls, inspect and evaluate controls once they are installed, and follow routine preventive maintenance practices. Effective leadership will make sure the following is accomplished:

  1. Track progress and verify implementation by asking the following questions:
  • Have all control measures been implemented according to the hazard control plan?
  • Have engineering controls been properly installed and tested?
  • Have workers been appropriately trained so that they understand the controls, including how to operate engineering controls, safe work practices, and PPE use requirements?
  • Are controls being used correctly and consistently?

2. Conduct regular inspections (and industrial hygiene monitoring, if indicated) to confirm
that engineering controls are operating as designed.

3. Evaluate control measures to determine if they are effective or need to be modified.
Involve workers in the evaluation of the controls. If controls are not effective, identify,
select, and implement further control measures that will provide adequate protection.

4. Confirm that work practices, administrative controls, and PPE use policies are being

5. Conduct routine preventive maintenance of equipment, facilities, and controls to help
prevent incidents due to equipment failure.

Leaders Educate Employers, Managers, and Supervisors

Employers, managers, and supervisors are responsible for workers’ safety, and will benefit from specific training that allows them to fulfill their leadership roles in the program. Demonstrating leadership in this area occurs when employers instruct managers and supervisors on the following:

  • Their responsibilities as managers and supervisors, and the rights of workers under the OSH Act.
  • Best practices when responding to all workers’ injury, illness, and incident reports in a positive way.
  • The fundamental concepts and techniques for recognizing hazards and methods of controlling them, including the hierarchy of controls.
  • Hazard analysis, controls, and incident/accident investigation techniques, including root cause analysis.
Previous articleImportance Of Meeting Leadership Responsibilities In Allocating Resources
Next articleHow Successful Leadership Is Exhibited In Training And Other Safety Programs
It Is the Purpose-Built Site For All Occupational Health & Safety Professionals Who Want To Be Updated With the Latest Safety News, Research, Products, & Solutions For The Smooth Running Of Your Organization Under Compliance With International OSH Standards.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here